Farmtruk joined St. Louis' fleet of food trucks last week, serving a varied menu – a burger, a barbacoa taco, a sandwich with head cheese and a sunny-side-up egg – unified by owner Samantha Mitchell's desire to showcase quality, locally raised meat and produce.
“Everything we have is locally sourced and made from scratch,” Mitchell tells Off the Menu. “You won't find prepackaged or processed anything.”
Mitchell launched Farmtruk after working at Chesterfield institution Annie Gunn's for seven years, first as a line cook and then, for the past five years, as the sous chef. (There she worked alongside – literally – executive sous chef Jesse Mendica, who is now the executive chef of the new, wildly popular Webster Groves restaurant Olive + Oak.) Her partner in operating Farmtruk is Scott Rivers, a former Annie Gunn's bartender.
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You can sense the influence of Annie Gunn's, upscale but also thoroughly American, even in a description of the burger. The patty is made from a blend of ground Piedmontese beef and then griddled; it's topped with Swabian-hog bacon and goat cheese from acclaimed Baetje Farms.
Mitchell says the time was right to start her own venture: “I'll be thirty this year, and owning a business by thirty was a goal of mine.”
A food truck was especially appealing to Mitchell for the work-life balance its operating hours would allow. “I'm a wife and mother,” Mitchell says, and a truck offers “the flexibility to be a good mom and still let my food be shown.”
(For much more on this and other issues facing women in the restaurant industry, check out the series of interviews that Jenny Agnew recently conducted for St. Louis Magazine.)
Mitchell says Citygarden downtown will be a regular weekday haunt for Farmtruk, and it will also be a fixture this season at Tower Grove Farmers' Market. Look for the truck with farm-themed illustrations drawn freehand by local artist Caleb Hauk.
Don't look for Farmtruk next week, though. Mitchell is parking the truck because of a prior commitment.